They called it Human Xerography: the process of imprinting the physical characteristics of one person onto another with the use of nano particles that could be molded around the human form.
One person could become another’s exact duplicate without any messy surgery and with zero recovery time needed after the procedure. The process was initially developed for medical applications – patients with severe burns or scars could instantly revert back to their previous appearance and find peace of mind again. It was a boon for wounded soldiers, especially when combined with the process of limb regeneration. Other uses soon followed.
It took only five years for the xerographs to become a common feature in hospitals and healthcare facilities. Even less time for it to end up on the black market for less altruistic purposes. Have a hot date? Want to make an impression? The xerograph could imprint the best features of any celebrity (or even your better looking friends) onto you. Brothels used the xerographs to alter the features of their girls to match their clients’ preferences. Anyone could be a supermodel for the right price.
Like me, for example. I was just your average Joe, the kind of guy that nobody would give a second look if they passed by me on the street. I saved every penny I could to be able to afford a xerograph session. I chose the features I wanted from the available catalogs. A broader chin, thicker hair, a more chiseled torso. Just half an hour was all it took for me to be a new man.
I enjoyed luxuries that were never available to me before. Women smiled at me and wanted to get my number. Some men too. Storekeepers, waiters, security guards all showed me more respect. I was treated like royalty simply for existing. But it wasn’t enough. I still found flaws.
My chin wasn’t dimpled enough. There was still some flab on my sides. My nose was more crooked than I’d remembered.
I took more money out of my savings. Had another session. Some more changes.
Life got even better. I was flying high on my new looks. My nights were no longer lonely, and I couldn’t remember a time without companionship. I relished the jealous looks I got from other men, ones who looked just like I had before. Or did I look like that once? I couldn’t really remember. I threw out every reminder of my old, ugly life. That person never existed, as far as I was concerned.
But even this life grew old. I needed a change. Something fresh. Something even better. Thanks to my new job, saving up wasn’t a problem anymore. I booked another xerograph session.
This time, I opted for a completely new face, based on one I saw in the catalog. He was perfect. Just completely perfect. I wasn’t going to take bits and pieces anymore. I wanted to be him, this lantern-jawed specimen staring at me from a photograph. And soon, I was.
Life really couldn’t get any better.
I was soon to learn that it could only get worse.
Days after my session, I was at one of the fanciest new restaurants in the city (there was a six-month long waiting list, but not for me) when I was approached by two men in black suits. They asked me to come with them, though I knew it wasn’t really a request.
As it turned out, my new face belonged to a spy who had gone rogue and on the run. I tried explaining that it was a mistake, that I only looked like him because of xerography. But in a world where everyone lies about their face, why would anyone believe me? It’s not like I had any old photographs to prove my claims. And even those could be expert forgeries.
There’s a long list of crimes associated with my name, or rather, with my face. I don’t know where the real spy is or what he looks like. Maybe he looks like the old me now. Maybe he gets the luxury of blending in with a crowd while my face gets displayed all around the world.